From the Arizona Republic comes a story reminding us that sexual harassment does not always fall neatly into the usual "male harassing female" model. An Arizona construction company agreed to pay $60,000 to settle a complaint filed by the EEOC on behalf of a male employee. "In addition to paying $60,000 the EEOC settlement by consent decree requires T.R. Orr to provide training and other relief to educate employees about sexual harassment and their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . .."
The case was brought on behalf of a male construction worker who was subjected to physical harassment by a co-worker. The co-worker had a history of such conduct, and the employer knew about it.
The article does not specify the gender of the harasser, although it appears to have been a woman. But it really doesn't matter. The harasser could have been female or male and the liability would have been the same. Since about 15% of sexual harassment claims with the EEOC are filed by men, employers need to think beyond the usual stereotype to ensure that harassing conduct is promptly addressed. Failure to do so risks a financial wake-up call from the EEOC or a private plaintiff.